Last Update 22:38
Islamist rally turns violent outside Alexandria mosque
Clashes break out in Egypt's second city at Islamist demonstration, as rival groups throw stones; security forces fire teargas into crowds to separate two sides
Ahram Online and MENA, Friday 21 Dec 2012
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UPDATE 3:
A masked protester watches a vehicle burn during clashes between opponents of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Islamist supporters in Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 (Photo: AP)

Clashes erupted shortly after several thousand demonstrators gathered at Alexandria's Qaed Ibrahim Mosque Friday to "defend [Islamic] scholars and mosques," and to call for Sharia (Islamic law).

After two hours of street battles, the vicinity of the mosque was mostly cleared for a while before confrontations broke out once again in surrounding streets. Several vehicles were set on fire.

The rally, which was initially peaceful after Friday noon prayers, turned violent when clashes broke out between Islamist demonstrators and rival opposition group.

According to media reports, clashes seem to have been kicked off after opposition protesters picked a fight with one of the Islamist demonstrators.

Central Security Forces (CSF), who were heavily deployed early Friday near the rallying point as a pre-emptive measure against possible violence, worked to restore order and keep both camps away from each other.

Rounds of teargas were repeatedly fired into the crowds, forcing people onto the Corniche near the mosque.

Tens of fire engines and ambulances were situated in the area, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website.

The health ministry released an initial injury toll of 32. More are expected to have been injured as the confrontations continued for hours afterwards. State news agency MENA confirmed that people from both sides have been injured.

Al-Ahram's Arabic site reported that the by dusk, Islamist protesters were forced to hide inside the nearby Miri Hospital after being chased by their opponents, who tried to follow them but were bombarded by CSF with teargas.

Meanwhile, other Islamists came from the Corniche, seeking to support their colleges but were stopped by CSF who are still unable to contain the situation.

Before violence marred the occasion, organizers of the Islamist rally set up stages and were leading religious chants. Checkpoints were also set up around the rally to search protesters before joining.

"The people want the implementation of God's Sharia," the crowds say, "we sacrifice our soul and our blood for Islam."

The protest comes after iconic Alexandria Sheikh Ahmed El-Mahalawy was held captive inside the mosque for 14 hours last Friday by worshippers angered by the overt Islamist rhetoric in his sermon.

El-Mahalawy demanded worshippers seek the implementation of Sharia (Islamic law) ahead of the referendum's first round, which was regarded as a call to vote 'Yes' for the constitution.

Over 20 people were injured last Friday in the ensuing confrontations and a few vehicles were set alight.

The Islamist forces blamed the liberal Constitution Party, headed by opposition figure and former IAEA chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, and former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi's opposition platform, the Egyptian Popular Current, for spearheading the attacks on the mosque.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Calling, along with their respective political wings, the Freedom and Justice Party and the Nour Party, announced their participation in today's demonstration alongside other Islamist groups.

The Brotherhood statement reads that the rally would be in "response to the attacks by the militias of the Popular Current and the Constitution Party on the Qaed Ibrahim Mosque, which kept Sheikh El-Mahalawy under siege for more than 14 hours inside the mosque, and the attempts to assault more than 100 worshippers, including women and children."

The ageing El-Mahalawy also delivered this Friday's sermon, reiterating that his supporters are capable of protecting the mosque but would rather state authorities do the job.

The 87-year-old stated that last weekend's "assailants are actually the victims of those who pay people to sow discord, they are the real criminals… the same people also wanted to postpone the referendum."

The second and final phase of the constitutional referendum takes place on Saturday, when the remaining 17 governorates will take to the polls.

The first phase of the referendum saw around 57 per cent vote in favour of the contentious national charter, according to unofficial results.





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6



Hector M
22-12-2012 12:59am
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Islamist rally turns violent by opposition outside Alexandria mosque
Why the heading is so negative, in actuality it is Islamist rally, why the opposition came to this rally, that turned it violent. The head line should be clear and not biased against one group.
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Yaseen, ALex
22-12-2012 12:52pm
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Reality
AO is telling the truth as it happened. They are not "Islamists" but bunch of criminals hiding under Islam. ThANKS AO
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AG
21-12-2012 10:08pm
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Correction
You mean Islamist rally is ATTACKED! The Islamist didn't turn violent. They were ATTACKED! Please be even handed. You will be taken to account for what you do before Allah on the day of Judgment. Do not endanger yourself by being biased or spreading lies! I don't expect you to publish this but it is the responsibility of the person who screens this message to communicate this advise!
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A.K.
22-12-2012 02:31pm
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Dear AG,
I read this news article and it said : "According to media reports, clashes seem to have been kicked off after opposition protesters picked a fight with one of the Islamist demonstrators". I concluded that the opposition forces attached the Islamists, and after reading all the other details, it appears to me that the reporter was fair and not biased at all. You are right the reporters must state the facts correct and complete as they happened, and then let the readers judge for themselves. Generally speaking, I strongly believe that the media needs a code of ethical conduct. I have been saying this for months but no body listens !!
A.K.
22-12-2012 02:31pm
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Dear AG,
I read this news article and it said : "According to media reports, clashes seem to have been kicked off after opposition protesters picked a fight with one of the Islamist demonstrators". I concluded that the opposition forces attacked the Islamists, and after reading all the other details, it appears to me that the reporter was fair and not biased at all. You are right the reporters must state the facts correct and complete as they happened, and then let the readers judge for themselves. Generally speaking, I strongly believe that the media needs a code of ethical conduct. I have been saying this for months but no body listens !!
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AG
21-12-2012 07:13pm
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THINK!
How do we know that CSF were actually not the ones egging on the conflicts? Why do CSF MOSTLY show up to Islamists protests? If they were able to prevent other Islamists from showing up how come they couldn't prevent Opposition protesters from showing up????
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3



Abla Aylobi
21-12-2012 07:12pm
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Terrorists not legitimate demonstrators
those burning cars and buses are terrorists, not legitimate demonstrators. They are a cancer upon the people's conscience.
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Nora
21-12-2012 06:14pm
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start up of a civil war?
Attacking mosque by the NSF (liberals, floules, and Coptic) will end us in a civil war. Wake up Egyptians, do not allow foreign hands to drag you down.
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muhammad Hamisu Ali
21-12-2012 02:56pm
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Elbaradel will be held responsible
Elbaradel should be held responsible for any lost Egyptian lives. He was used by American before against Iraq , and now they are using him to distroy his country.
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